V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > G. Africa, 1795–1917 > 3. Regions > c. Northeast Africa (Horn)
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1800)
c. Northeast Africa (Horn)
1. Ethiopia
Ethiopian “Zamana Mesafent” (“era of the princes”) was marked by a breakdown of central power and the emergence of regionally based feudalism. During this period the imperial monarchy survived in form but was without substantial authority. There was rivalry among regional feudal lords to become the most powerful in order to dominate the emperor. The Ethiopian Church was also riven by factions. The feudal lords were supported by in-kind payments and corvée labor of the peasantry, who were further undermined by the constant state of war among the regional princes.  1
c. 1800–20
Galla kingdom of Enarea was founded.  2
Protestant missionaries were expelled from Tigre.  3
c. 1842
Lazarist missionaries arrived in Tigre and Eritrea.  4
c. 1847
Theodore, the future emperor, organized rebels and overran Gondar.  5
The modern period in Ethiopia began with the reign of Tewodros II, who consolidated and recreated the Ethiopian Empire. Tewodros established a national army and appointed salaried governors and judges after defeating feudal lords. Initially he was allied with the church, but he attempted to reform it. Excess church land (beyond that needed to support essential clergy) was redistributed, and Tewodros permitted the introduction of an Amharic Bible by Protestant missionaries.  6
The Gondar region rebelled against Tewodros, who imprisoned several British officers.  7
A British punitive expedition, involving 68,000 men under Sir Robert Napier, was sent to release British prisoners held by Tewodros.  8
British forces freed British prisoners, and Tewodros committed suicide. The British expedition demonstrated the power of modern weaponry.  9
1872, Jan
Yohannes IV achieved the Ethiopian throne. He was more successful than Tewodros in bringing about unification by following a conciliatory policy toward both the nobility and the clergy. He supported modernization of the military with imported firearms and a British adviser.  10
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.